NASCAR’s reigning superstar of superstars, Jimmie Johnson, went right from the winner’s circle to the hospital to have skin cancer cut out of his right shoulder. Almost no one knew about it until Johnson took to Twitter to let everyone know he was laid out on the table anticipating the procedure.
For Johnson, the operation wasn’t exactly unexpected. People of his vintage who grew up playing in sunny Southern California, are often good candidates for going under the knife at the dermatologist. Johnson was no exception, later telling the Associated Press, “I could vividly remember a lot of sunburns…sun exposure…there’s just consequences…”
In a candid interview, auto racing’s resident golden boy opened up about the fear when he heard the cancer word. “Carcinoma doesn’t spread. It doesn’t go to the glands… They just have to dig it out, and you’re good to go. Once I understood that, my reaction to the ‘C’ word calmed down…”
Racing Season is a Busy Time
Johnson knew something like this couldn’t wait, though, so he worked to find a way to squeeze surgery and recovery in during his racing season. Not an easy task. So, he waited until the race in Delaware left the track and went right over to NYC, where the surgery was conducted. Knowing as soon as someone recognized him, the “secret” would be out, Johnson tweeted the news to his fans.
Well wishes began to pour in as Johnson waited for lab results after the surgery. An hour or so later, he was released with 22 more stitches and a lot less worry. But then came the inevitable questions. Since the surgery was on his shoulder, how would he perform? Would one of the most dominant racers in the modern era be ready to take the track for his next race? Johnson left no speculation, telling everyone he was definitely ready to go.
Johnson Asks Fans to Use Sunscreen
He followed that message up with a warning to parents, to make sure their kids wear sunblock … and to adults too stubborn to take that step. “With the forum that I have, I felt an obligation to say something… I hope there’s parents putting sunblock on their kids more now.”
That said, Jimmie is ready to refocus on racing. At 83 wins, he’s currently tied with Hall of Famer Cale Yarborough for sixth on the career victories list. And, according to CNN, he and Yarborough are the only two racers to win three consecutive cup titles. It’s entirely possible he will pass Yarborough this season … and, now cancer free, Johnson says he still has a lot more fuel in his tank.